A community ride

Last weekend the University of Reading held its annual community festival, and Kidical Mass Reading (and our own community) had a stall and ran a ride. We were delighted to be back on the university site, which has a great network of quiet roads and off road paths. In terms of planning how to marshal the rides, it’s definitely the easiest location we use and I would thoroughly recommend it for a weekend family bike ride.

We had hoped that our route would be a able to briefly leave the site to take in part of the new bike lane on Shinfield Road, but sadly some road works popped up a few days before the ride rendering it temporarily usable. That was a shame, as it is a nice bike lane. However, it did mean that the whole route was very low traffic and the drivers we encountered were very patient and calm. Generally traffic tends to move slowly around the university site, which I’m sure is good for everyone’s stress levels!

Leaflets galore

Our stand was shared with Reading Cycle Campaign and Avanti Cycling (who run the Bikeability training in schools). This meant that we had an abundance leafleting material, in addition to the Kidical Mass flyers, stickers and temporary tattoos. We also had two Super Keen preschoolers who were determined to carry on distributing stickers and post ride until they were all gone, despite their parents best attempts to get them to move on towards lunchtime. (Yes, Dear Reader, one of them was Mr 4). The stall was manned throughout the afternoon to continue spreading the word about cycling in Reading.

Dr Bike DrBiking

One of Mr 4’s birthday presents last year was a kickstand for his bike, and whilst we were waiting for the ride to start he decided to use it as a makeshift turbo trainer, balancing the bike on it and pedalling backwards. It isn’t really designed to take that kind of weight so it ended up pointing off at a completely random angle. Dr Bike (aka Santa’s Elf) was positioned next to our festival stand. He is adored by Mr 4, who was delighted to have a repair to request (the kickstand was very quickly and easily realigned). After the ride it looked like there were a fair few people bringing their bikes for tune ups, and it’s great to see that service being used.

Three balance bikes on a single picture!

With the new location came some new faces on the ride, including a few slightly bigger balance bikers – a great sign that their families had done the research on how to teach a child to ride a bike. The stabilisers I remember from my childhood are not currently the recommended approach. They completely change how a bike behaves (you cannot steer by shifting your weight), and when the stabilisers are removed the child then has to relearn how to control their bike. Rather it’s suggested that everyone starts with a balance bike, which steers in the same way as a pedal bike does. For bigger children a pedal bike can be temporarily transformed into balance bike by removing the pedals and lowering the saddle. It was great to have some kids riding in this manner out with us, and they did brilliantly at covering the distance. Scooting a bike is rather harder work than pedalling!

If you missed out on this wonderful community fuelled ride, then please do join us for one of the ones coming up:

  • the next Wokingham ride will be on Sunday 23rd June
  • the next Reading one will take place on Sunday 7th July.